The Zionsville Community Schools Board of School Trustees heard some good news and some not-so-good news about the corporation's Referendum Fund at its regular meeting Monday night, Aug. 12.
Board member Bill Stanczykiewicz questioned the June revenues for the fund, saying the expected amount was about $2.5 million, but there was $2.8 million listed. In response, Chief Financial Officer Michael Shafer explained that excise taxes added to the property tax levy increased the amount of the fund.
In his report, Shafer wrote: "The Referendum Fund is not subject to circuit breaker losses. Property taxes received were 2.3 percent greater than projected for the first half of the year, while excise taxes were 19.8 percent above projection."
June was the first month to reflect expenditures from the Referendum Fund for teacher salaries and payroll costs. Shafer told the board that the fund should last through the teacher contract year of 2016.
The less appealing news came later, in Superintendent Scott Robison's report, when he told board members that as state funding declines, even using the referendum money won’t get the job done. The result will be increased class size until the funding formula changes, he said. Shafer used the old adage attributed to car salesmen to illustrate: "We're losing a little on each one, but making it up in volume."
Already there's been concern about class size at Stonegate Elementary for this school year, according to Robison, and a third-grade teacher was moved to fourth grade to alleviate the issues. He said class size goals set several years ago are rarely met because it's difficult to know where families will move in and the ages of their children. Class sizes remain under 30 students in the schools, but some have reached 28 or 29.
"The last time we had per-pupil funding this low was 2003, with 1,700 fewer students to serve," Robison said.